I came to The Killing (aka Forbrydelsen) in a rather ass-backwards way… getting drawn in by the story surrounding its BAFTA win, without ever having seen a single second of the series itself! But for the past four weeks the BBC have been blasting through all twenty episodes of the first series, in anticipation of the sequel… which will hopefully be starting sometime in
October November. Hurrah! On the down side, I had a hard enough time keeping my impatience in check when the episodes were being broadcast on a daily basis, so lord knows how I’m going to cope when I have to wait a whole week between updates! At least the next series is only ten episodes long… so it shouldn’t be quite so painful… right?
For those who don’t know, Series 1 opens with ‘Detective Inspector Sarah Lund’ serving out her last official day with the Copenhagen Police department, in anticipation of a move to Sweden with her fiancé… but no sooner has Lund’s laddish replacement dumped his boombox and toy cars in “her” office, than she’s asked to accompany him on an investigation into the disappearance of a local girl named ‘Nanna Birk Larsen’. Lund’s only supposed to be “showing him the ropes” at first, but once she sets her mind to work on the case, she finds it impossible to switch off, and pretty soon the mooted move to Sweden drops way down her list of priorities, along with such luxuries as a solid night’s sleep and a square, sit-down meal. And thank goodness for that, because it was slow torture having to sit through all the domestic scenes with Lund’s sullen son, stroppy mother and boring boyfriend… much like our heroine, I just wanted to know whodunnit, dammit!
I read an interview with lead actress Sofie Gråbøl recently*, in which she claimed that the appeal of the character lies in the fact that she’s slightly androgynous… she doesn’t fit comfortably on either side of the traditional gender identity divide. Obviously she would make for a fairly appalling mother and/or wife, but as far as fictional detectives go, I think Lund might be my new favourite… she’s certainly a lot prettier than Columbo! Seriously though, I love the way she chuckled appreciatively every time a suspect or witness made some lame joke, using her innate empathy and compassion to coax and cajole answers out of them… but she could cut both ways, and be quite blunt when she needed to be. She’s also a mistress of misdirection, politely asking a suspect to go and fetch her some random item, so that she can sneak away and nose around their house or garage. Even more impressive was her preternatural intuition, which helped her zero in on the important clues and leads… even though her over-zealousness often drove her to wander into dangerous situations, alone and completely unarmed. Ack! When I first saw a photo of her, I mocked Lund’s fashion-sense, but it’s weird how attached you become to that jumper over the course of the series… it’s like when Batman puts on his mask and cape… there’s something strangely heroic/iconic about it. Aside from Lund’s relationship with knitwear, I also enjoyed the fluctuating dynamic she had with her supposed-successor, ‘Jan Meyer’ (Søren Malling). At first he was just a numbskull nuisance, but eventually he settled down and became a more amenable asset… and there were some wonderful moments where they shared a cigarette, or strode out of the office together that made me cheer a little to myself… so I’m very disappointed that they won’t be working together again in the second series (for reasons I won’t go into).
One of the things I didn’t realise going into the series, was that it was also, in part, a political thriller. Again, this led to some fairly frustrating, Lund-less scenes, where the writers expected me to care about the election prospects of a bunch of bickering, back-stabbing politicos, when I would much rather have been checking back in with the detectives and their cliff-hanger-baiting activities. As long as the City Hall suits were co-operating with the police, I liked them… but when they started throwing down (metaphorical) roadblocks or withholding evidence, I felt like slapping them through the screen. I was more sympathetic towards Nanna’s family, as they worked their way through various stages of grief, and struggled to keep up with the twists and turns in the investigation… and occasionally derailed it completely. Regardless of how irritating I found the supporting characters at times, there were some fantastic performances across the board… and I think the story still hangs together pretty well, once the real culprit has been revealed. It would be fascinating to watch it through a second time, to see how different the experience is once you know who/what to look out for…
* In this month’s Psychologies magazine, if you’re curious. There’s a very nice picture of her on the cover too…